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Re: Disambiguate modeline character for UTF-8?

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: Disambiguate modeline character for UTF-8?
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2023 14:41:34 +0300

> From: Ulrich Mueller <ulm@gentoo.org>
> Cc: Drew Adams <drew.adams@oracle.com>,  Eli Zaretskii <eliz@gnu.org>,
>   eggert@cs.ucla.edu,  Stefan Monnier <monnier@iro.umontreal.ca>
> Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2023 12:08:59 +0200
> >>>>> On Mon, 24 Aug 2020, Ulrich Mueller wrote:
> >>>>> On Mon, 24 Aug 2020, Drew Adams wrote:
> >> I'll just say this, as some have suggested that
> >> one main thing they want is to be able to easily
> >> and quickly tell whether the encoding is NOT
> >> utf-8 (and not ASCII, presumably):
> >> The characters "u" and "U" are not so easily
> >> distinguished.  You might want to pick some
> >> other, quite different looking, character for
> >> the non-UTF-8 (i.e., UTF-16 etc.).
> > Another idea: Since "-" is used for ASCII, maybe use "+" for UTF-8?
> > This would be visually unobtrusive, so any uncommon coding system would
> > stand out against it.
> Coming back to this thread (which at the time ended in bikeshedding).
> The goal I had in mind was to disambiguate UTF-8, i.e. a unique modeline
> character would be used for it. Currently this is not the case:
>    U -- utf-8*  (all variants)
>    U -- utf-16* (all variants)
>    U -- utf-7
>    U -- koi8-u
> So, I propose to change this to either:
>    + -- utf-8*  (all variants)
>    (everything else unchanged)
> or:
>    U -- utf-8*  (all variants)
>    u -- utf-16* (all variants)
>    u -- utf-7
>    K -- koi8-u

TBH, I don't like to change such long-time features.

The only real problem is between UTF-8 and UTF-16, since the others
are hardly ever used these days.  UTF-16 is also quite rarely used,
basically only on MS-Windows for system-level files.  So is this
really a problem that we need to solve, at the risk of breaking
people's "muscle" memory?  If I see the lower-case "u" on the
modeline when I expect to see "U" instead, I'd be surprised.  Is it
worth it?

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